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“Average, Maybe a bit below”

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Hotel Riu Playa Blanca
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Rio Hato
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 20 helpful votes
“Average, Maybe a bit below”
Reviewed 26 August 2014

I've had good experiences at the Riu chain hotels and suspected that the negative reviews were from overly picky travelers. Nonetheless, as much as I wanted to love this resort, it just was not up to par.

-- Just about everything in the fitness center was broken.
-- The resort spa is really just a couple of women given poolside massages.
-- I am not picky eater, but the best thing I can say about the food is that it is edible (in most cases).
-- After 10 or 10:30 the restaurants close and the only place to eat is the sports bar. The only foods available in the sports bar are hamburgers and sandwiches located in a fridge at the bar of the bar, nachos and some wilted fruit. (The Barcelo in Punta Cana sends patrons to the sports bar for late night snacks, but they offer a hot buffet of pub food, wings, salad, chicken tenders, pizza, etc.)
-- The bathrooms are far from the pool.
-- There were a bunch of things falling apart in our room - surprising for a new hotel. The shower was broken and we had to fiddle with the balcony door to open it.

We did not have issues with the service. However, we noted that most patrons did not tip, which may have led to the comments here about slow or non-existent service.

This is definitely a stain on the Riu brand name.

Room Tip: Free wifi is for 90 minutes and is only accessible from the lobby.
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Displaced_City_Girl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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English first
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2014

We were a family of 6, The hotel looks neat, clean and well distributed. The food was very good and has domestic liquor in each room. We changed room because we had 244, which was right below the main staircase and it was a little noisy. The only this is that the hotel do not have transfer service and it is located 1 hour 1/2 from the city. We booked a transfer (Round Trip) with a company named, R&E Transfer Panama which gave us the best quote for the group.

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
5 Thank Shannon O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
12 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 August 2014

I went from August 8-15th 2014. It only took about 20 mins from the new airport RIO HATO. It is really close, but some flights (not sunwing) land in panama city which is 2-3 hours away.
We got there around 1 pm and checking in was quite fast because they had a table with your keys and your information ready. Room is nice and moder. The lobby has a nice decorations. It looks new and modern. Room also looks new and modern. bed was comfortable but the pillows smelled like dirty feet. AC was working good. TV has 2 english channels.The power kept going out for like 1 minute and then come back several times in the evenings.
FOOD: I personally did NOT like the food at all. I like to eat meat and rice and veggies....but everything was either over cooked, undercooked, hard, salty or no seasoning. It was just gross. Had roast beef once and it was hard and tasteless. Found mysel feating pizza alot. The italian was not bad i had a stuffed chicken and their salmon is good too. The steakhouse is probably the best. The asian the worst. still found something to eat but not too many edible choices plus it was all buffett as well. Oh yea, I found a fly in my food. At breakfast you gotta ask for coffee or they may not ask you. I saw a staff member eatin gthe food from the tables while they were working...The main buffett is closed at lunch, but there is the one near the beach open which has better food.
DRINKS: watered down, gross, give you stomach ache. No good brands at all.
SMOKING: For smokers, you can't smoke in alot of areas, only the beach and at the theatre
POOL:there is 4 of them. one is for the kids with the slides. the other is for sports, the other is for partying (pool bar) and the other is a quieter one. The tiles at the pool with the swim up were coming off. many kids in the pool as well collecting the tiles for fun. They closed it down on my last day. Bathroom is not that far..at least not before 6 because you can easily go to the washroom by the kids pool in the restaurant. After that the closest one is quite far.
BEACH: it was nice, found some soft areas to swim around. sand is dark and white.
Weather was beautiful, hot.
Did not travel outside the resort, cabs cost 80 dollars.
The entertainment staff was okay. They just do many dance routines.
Customer Service: Staff look confused at times. Encountered a few rude ones, but overall most were nice. I saw no one tipping at all. The club at night was okay. There is many spanish speaking people there. Not many americans and a few more canadians.
I would not recommend this hotel. There are so many other hotels(in different countries) that are older but have good food, better beaches, better drinks, better service, and so on.
Oh yea, they charge 42.00 dollars when you leave the country!
i would rate this hotel 2.5 out of 5.

Room Tip: The higher you are the less you hear the noise from downstairs at night, but the lower you are, the...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank crisnas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

Travellers are raving about these Rio Hato hotels

Canada
Level Contributor
8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 August 2014

Great trip with a great group of people.

Bad:
-No bathrooms at the pool bar and beach. You have to walk 1 minute to the nearest bathroom from the pool bar and possibly 1-3 from the beach. They have a great spot to build if they choose to.
-Elevators: depending on the time of day you might have to wait. If your room is on the outside of the resort away from the elevators (middle) you'll walk for 2 minutes.
-FREE lobby WIFI has a weaker signal. Paid WIFI is apparently great.
-Some touch ups are needed in the pools (tiles).
-The resort is clean BUT I think they could do a bit better. Because the building is new you can still smell the cement (or something) in certain rooms. The resort is 4 months old in a warm climate.
-Testing the fire alarm

Good:
-Food was pretty good. Some a la carte's better than others. Selection was reasonable.
-Transfer from the new airport 8 minutes
- It is nice, modern, good looking resort
-Staff is friendly and can speak some English. Spanish is the language used in Panama.
-Drinks are good- wine is nice
-Tours: are easy to set up in the lobby (Panama Canal, Rainforest)
-Entertainment is good: a dance show and live music
-RIULand is fun for kids
-Gardens and landscape are very nice
-Watersport selection was good (some events are paid: snorkel, sea doo)
-staff accommodated my 1 year old nephew, 80 year old grandmother and a family member that had medical concerns. Very helpful and available.

Other:
-At night Panama has mosquitos
-Sunwing will extend your flight an hour or more if they feel like getting gas in Panama City
-The weather forecast in Panama reads thunderstorms. The weather is hot, sunny, sometimes it does rain, other times it has full sun and at night there is heat lightning.
-The sand in Panama is a mix of light brown and black (Pacific)

  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank colombiaoranje
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 19 August 2014

Loved the rooms as a family of 6 our joining suite was spacious and fit us perfectly. Very clean and well maintained hotel as expected from a Riu resort. Pleasant staff respectful and professional. I normally don't expect much when it comes to resort food, but I was pleasantly surprised to the vast variety and full flavoured food they put out at the buffets and restaurants. Lady luck was on our side this past week that we went since it was all sunshine for the full week with only 1hour of rain. Love the pool set up with the kids in one with their slides and us adults 20 steps across in ours helps keep an eye on them while having our own good time. If you're an ocean lover than you'll love the fact that the ocean was warm NOT FREEZING! with lots of beach for those who love to go for walks. Overall a fantastic resort, we would definitely go back and recommend it to friends and family.

Room Tip: We had our rooms balcony facing the pools and beach covering a great view of the whole resort. This...
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
12 Thank frank p
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Katonah, New York
Level Contributor
22 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 47 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2014

Visited the Riu Playa Blanca from 8/2/14-8/8/14. Traveled with my husband and Children ages 16 and 14. Arrived at Airport in Panama City. Took a just under 2 hour car ride to the Hotel utilizing the services of Panama Roadrunner. We were picked up promptly by Ruth and arrived at Resort safely and with knowledge of the Country.

The area is up and coming. There is a lot of building going on around the hotel. A empty lot sits on each side. In the distance you can see the Decamaron Hotel on one side and the JW Marriott on the other. The hotel will be stunning in a couple of years once the palm trees, bushes and flower beds mature.

We did not leave the hotel premises during our stay.

The Hotel is nice. Large open air Lobby. We arrived at midnight, check in quickly and were taken up to our room. We were on the 4th floor, Room 4054 and unfortunately over the disco which was open from 11-2 nightly. The first night, as we were all so tired we did not hear the noise. But the next few nights were real loud. Thankfully is was only a few hours each night. IF you book, make sure you are not in the rooms located above the disco.

We were given a 2 bedroom family room with two bathrooms. You first walk into a very large entry foyer with a stocked fridge, storage area and bench. Great for leaving all beach stuff everyday. The rooms are new, modern and streamlined. The kids room had two double beds, flat screen tv and balcony. There was also very large double closet, dresser and work table with chairs in room. Across the hall was a large bathroom for their use.

The other room had a king size bed, couch which also turns into a bed, large bathroom with double sinks, huge shower and separate toilet area and a large floor to ceiling window. Both rooms and bathrooms were very large compared to most hotels. There were ceiling fans in each room and a/c controls in each room.

The pool area was large. There were 4 pools to choose from. The Kid pool, a pool for water sports, the Bar pool and a quieter pool. There were many chairs and adequate umbrellas. Though, the area still looks unfinished. I am sure they will be putting in much needed bathrooms near the pool area.

The beach was nice. No problems with undertow while I was there. They did provide many umbrellas as palm trees are not yet mature to provide shade. There was also many water sports available.

The Gym was lacking. There were 3 treadmills, 2 ellipticals, hand weights and a universal machine 3 flatscreen tvs and windows that overlooked the empty lot. That's it. There were no floor mats, exercise mats or body bars. But what really bothered me was that there were no cleaning supplies or wipes to clean off machines or weights after use.

Use of Wi Fi limited to 90 consecutive minutes per day in Lobby. So if you want to sit in lobby and sweat to death have at it.

No complaints about food. Buffet was large and ample. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner covered all basics and everything else you could imagine. Look if you cant find something to eat at a buffet with at least 50 different options along with cheeses, fruits, coldcuts, breads and spread then you should probably just stay home.

We tried the steakhouse one night and it was decent. We found we could eat what we wanted at the buffet so we decided not to eat at Italian and Asian restaurants.

Loved the Cafe con leche at buffet and at machines throughout hotel.

The Hotel could have offered more snacks. Early afternoon my children would want a snack and the only choices seemed to be cut fruit in containers and nachos which were located at Sports Bar. Nothing wrong with it but they need variation.

Drinks were good. I stuck with the Mojitos which were great.

Great animation staff. They truly knew the basics. Smile and say Hello. I found that much of the hotel staff was lacking in that department.

What they need to improve is:

1) Provide shampoo, conditioner in bathrooms. They only had a muti-purpose gel in dispenser for use.
2) Provide hand wipes and wipes to clean off machines in Gym.
3) Improve Wi-Fi. The whole hotel should not be in lobby in evening trying to get on wi-fi.
4) Be creative with snacks.
5) Disco should not be playing music so loud it vibrates up through 4 floors.
6) A Bathroom is desperately needed near pool area. You should not have to walk all the way back into the hotel restaurant or main area to utilize a bathroom. My husband and I witnessed a mother walking from one pool to the one we were at with her daughter and telling her to take a pee in pool to avoid walking to bathroom. Can't imagine how many other people go that route.
7) The restaurants should not be buffet. What makes the restaurants special when going to other all inclusives is that you are truly eating a meal thats above the buffet standard.
8) Have the staff smile and say hello. It goes a long way.

All in all we had a Great time. We truly relaxed and that is what we came to do.

Room Tip: Do not choose room above disco.
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  • Stayed August 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Helpful?
14 Thank claudiaB1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Panama City, Panama
Level Contributor
10 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 August 2014 via mobile

I went to riu playa blanca for a weekend (15 to 17 of august), with my family (2 4 months old babies and my aunt and my cusin); I live in Panama so I knew that the quality that I found in other Riu hoteles around the world would have been difficult to find here, and that's exactly what happened.
We arrived at 3 pm, and cued for like 1 hour and a half for the check in. I booked a room for 2 adults and 2 babies, and when we entered the room there was only one crib, and without the sheets. The room and the sheets of the main bed smell like feet, literally. We called 4 times to get the other crib and to get the sheets changed, but we had to go to de reception and yell at the receptionist to get it done, and they didn't change the sheets. I opened the fridge to store my babies' milk and there were 2 opened cans and an opened bottle of wine, and wine spitted everywhere, it took me another 2 calls to the reception to have someone to clean it up; it means that they didn't even checked it when they made the room. One of the 4elevators was out of service, and we have a double stroller that barely fitted in it, so we had to wait every time to have the elevator empty so we can use it, and it always took forever. Also, 4 elevators for an hotel with 400 rooms?!???!?
The food at the restaurant wasn't bad, but when we asked for bacon on sunday morning the answered that they were not going to make it that day, maybe the day after.
All pools were dirty, the water was green even if they cleaned it every morning, and that's because everyone pees in there because there are no bathrooms near the pool.
I made a reservation for november before going there, but I will definitely cancel it, I won't return there.
This is not a 5 star hotel, not even a 3 stars, and it's a shame for the quality that Riu offers all around the world. But if they hire panamenian staff, this is the standard that you get.

Stayed August 2014
Helpful?
7 Thank ElisaPierobon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Riu Playa Blanca

Property: Hotel Riu Playa Blanca
Address: Finca 43.668 | Playa Blanca - Provincia de Cocle, Rio Hato 0213, Panama
Phone Number:
Region: Panama > Cocle Province > Rio Hato
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 5 Hotels in Rio Hato
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Riu Playa Blanca 3.5*
Number of rooms: 573
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